Eight music stages, more than 135,000 daily attendees and nearly 200 of the world’s best DJs filled the Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, forming North America’s largest electric music festival and an ever-growing part of Vegas’ entertainment identity.
Those at the Speedway over the weekend included not only tens of thousands of ravers from California and Nevada, but those traveling from as far south as Brazil, as far north as Iceland and as far east as China for what some called “the opportunity of a lifetime.” And while many of this year’s Electric Daisy Carnival attendees were returning to the festival after having experienced it in previous years, others marveled at the first and perhaps only time they’ll have the chance to party under the electric sky.
LA resident JaJuan Engle attended EDC for the first time Friday night at age 35. Engle, who said he had “always wanted to go” when the festival was held in his hometown for its first 13 years, and in Las Vegas for the past six years, could never afford the cost of the three-day festival admission wristband, which reached $335 this year.
After landing a promotion at a Pasadena-based Vons grocery store in January, Engle, now married with two kids, convinced his wife Jasmine not only to let him buy an EDC wristband, but to join him at LVMS this weekend and fulfill his teenage dream.
“If I never come to this again, I just wanted to say that I did it,” said Engle, standing in a tank top, denim shorts and a pair of all-white Nike Air Force 1 shoes outside the Kinetic Field stage during a set from DJ Will Sparks. “I’ll remember the brightness of the lights and especially the feel of the bass from all these DJs.”
At the Cosmic Meadow stage, Belo Horizonte, Brazil natives Paolo Cielo, 22, and Thaisa Alves, 21, took turns waving a 10-foot tall Brazilian flag totem during DJ Porter Robinson’s set early Sunday morning. The two university students were part of a group of 15 Belo Horizonte natives that had saved money for the better part of the last 12 months working various jobs—from retail store clerk to taxi driver—to make their EDC debuts this weekend.
Their awestruck faces, illuminated by the flashing stage lights, seemed to affirm their said enjoyment of the festival. “We came to Las Vegas just for this,” a shirtless Cielo said in his native Portuguese. “Sure, the Strip is the most famous, and the shopping is great, but EDC is special.”
“There’s nowhere I’d rather be this weekend,” Alves added. “This is incredible.”
While electronic dance music is considered a niche industry in their homeland, Jing Yang, 19, Liu Fang, 18, and Kevin Liang, 19, said they hope names like Tiësto and Armin Van Buuren soon become mainstream in China, as the DJs have in many other developed regions across the world.
For the time being, the chance to see such artists live is a rarity for the three Tianjin natives, who also attended EDC for the first time this weekend. On Saturday, Yang, Fang and Liang—all wearing red T-shirts with an array of glowsticks and “kandi” beads hung from their neck—danced outside the Circuit Grounds stage during performance by DJ Oliver Heldens.
“We’ve traveled a long way to see this,” Yang said. “Now is our time to enjoy.”